Entertainment #FromHome: What to do when you’re bored at home
If your queue of movies and shows are looking a little on the “I’ve already watched that one twice already” side, this one’s for you. I’ve put together a raft of fresh shows, movies, and performances based upon my online travels and on suggestions from a few friends. And oh yes, everything on here is for free—from reputable sources and sites—free movies, free shows, free plays, free audio books, and more. Let’s dig in!
Catch a movie at a free global film festival
An entire host of major film festivals have banded together to create a virtual film festival—the We Are One Global Film Festival, which kicks off on May 29th and runs through June 7th. Now this looks really special. It brings together some 20 festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto International, Berlin International, Tribeca, Venice, and more, so you can only imagine what types of cinema you’ll find. It’s all free and looks to include festival fare ranging from films and shorts to documentaries, music, and comedies, all of which you can watch on YouTube. As I’m writing this, the list of films have yet to be published, but you can bet on seeing some films you simply won’t see anywhere else right now.
London’s National Theatre at home
For some time, London’s National Theatre has recorded numerous performances through its National Theatre Live program, which it has broadcast to hundreds of venues worldwide. Now, with its temporary closure, the National Theatre is premiering a new performance every Thursday. Each one is free and available for one week, with performances from actors such as James Corden, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and Gillian Anderson in anything from American classics like A Streetcar Named Desire to Shakespeare, Greek theatre, and adaptations of novels like Frankenstein and Treasure Island.
Free movies, eBooks, and audio books
I referenced Open Culture a few weeks ago in one of my earlier articles on personal development from home, and they’re back again this week. This time, it’s Open Culture’s free audio book library with 1,000 titles to choose from. You’ll find a mix of fiction and non-fiction with reading of Twain, Hemmingway, Vonnegut, Austen, Asimov, Conan Doyle, Dostoyevsky, and … well, clearly, I could go on. You get the idea, though. An additional list of theirs compiles 800 free eBooks for you reading pleasure with a similar blend of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry too.
And yes, Open Culture has free movies as well. It’s quite the curated list with more than 1,100 free films that range from indies to westerns and Hitchcock to John Wayne and old martial arts flicks and film noir. That’s in addition to all of the other content they gather from across the internet and make available to us, with other sections dedicated to free language lessons, free business courses, and more. Put it this way: if you’re ever on the hunt for something fresh to read, watch, or do, Open Culture is a great site.
Free eBooks and audio books from Libby
There’s one free resource for movies, music, and books that’s been around for some time—your public library. More recent is an excellent app for enjoying eBooks and audio books from your library on your phone or tablet, the Libby app. With this app you can access the thousands of books available at your library and enjoy them with a built-in reader and a built-in audio book player. The search functionality is quite nice too. It’s curated much like your movie queue, with sections dedicated to what’s new, what’s popular, and by topic, which is quite nice if you don’t have a particular book in mind. You can simply start exploring.
In all, the experience feels like you’re digitally exploring the shelves. Per their website, some 90% of public libraries in North America work with Overdrive, the service that powers the app, as well as libraries in some 78 countries worldwide. (You can search and see if your library works with the app right here.) All you need is your library card. Don’t have one? No problem. Many libraries allow you to get a card right inside the app. Likewise, you can visit your local library’s website for details on how to get one as well.
Play at Home
If anything, I’m continually inspired and a little blown away by the ingenuity people are showing now—particularly as we all look to keep connected and share experiences together while many venues are closed, at least for the time being. Case in point, Play at Home, where instead of watching a show, you can be the show. Play at Home offers up an entire series of short plays commissioned just for people to perform at home. And if you’re feeling particularly bold, they even have a few musicals too. They’re minutes in length, and they have plenty of family-friendly options too in their kid-friendly section which has “plays written to be performed by or for young people and to be enjoyed by humans of all ages.”
So, whether you perform in your living room or fire up a conference call to get some family and friends in on this, is an absolute departure from the normal movie night. Nice to know too is that this all started as a small group of five theatres looking to support artists during theatre closures, which has since expanded to 16 theatres and counting, including The Old Globe and the JFK Center for the Performing Arts.
The Shows Must Go On!
What a great name for a series of free musicals. Much like what the National Theatre has done, The Shows Must Go On! streams a new musical for free each Friday. Each one is a full-length performance and is available starting at 7pm BST (2pm ET, 11am PT, and 5am AET Saturday). Runs are limited, though. Just for 48 hours, which is just in time for the weekend. So far, there have been plenty of hits from Andrew Lloyd Webber, like Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Phantom of the Opera. And yes, it’s okay for you to belt one out and sing along while you watch. In fact, I encourage it.
Free nightly opera at the Met
Yet more performances are coming to your screen thanks to the New York Metropolitan Opera. This time, the performances refresh nightly as part of their Live in HD opera series. These will run for the duration of the Opera’s temporary closure, and you can plan your attendance ahead of time by checking out their weekly guide that provides capsule previews of each show. Puccini, Mozart, Gounod, Wagner, Verdi all have operas that make the grand stage, and while you may not find yourself singing along with these, the spectacle of a Met opera is something to behold. Also posted online are Playbills from the original performance dates, so you can indulge in the synopses, program notes, and more.
Play it (and stream it) safe
To be absolutely blunt about it, anytime you go searching for “free” anything, you’re bound to come across sketchy sites and links that prey on well-meaning people like you—particularly now. With folks keeping close to home, hackers and crooks have fine-tuned their scams accordingly. In fact, we have an entire research study that we’ve just conducted and are ready to share in a few weeks that shows how they’re taking advantage of streamers right now—and what you can do to play it safe when you’re simply looking to pass some time with a good show online.
In the meantime, go ahead and get yourself some protection that keeps you safer while you’re searching online. A good browser tool will alert you of any links and downloads that could wind up putting adware, spyware, or viruses on your device. Likewise, it can avert similar threats from misclicks and typos.